Report - - Pinkston & Molendinar drains, Glasgow - June 2010 | UK Draining Forum | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Pinkston & Molendinar drains, Glasgow - June 2010

Cardinal Awol

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
After doing my first ever drain/sewer explore in Aberdrain, I decided to see what Glasgow had to offer. This time, a friend (who is a far more sensible man than I, and who I shall refer to as "Cookie Monster") accompanied me on the misadventures - sort of.

Using a map which was published in 1897 but which depicts Glasgow as it was in 1650, the lost Pinkston Burn was located; the map, when put into Google Earth as an image overlay, proved to be surprisingly accurate. The Pinkston empties into the Kelvin, which empties into the Clyde. The little burn became a festering open sewer and a nuisance to the city, and so was at some point bricked over. It has not, to my knowledge, been explored before.

Of course I was excited when I saw the outfall. Looking out from the inside:


Check out that oldschool eggery!
Me in my woolly Peruvian draining hat:


Tunnel was probably 5 or 5.5 feet tall.
Detail of the wall:


Upon entering the tunnel, one is able to hear two sounds. One is a trickling noise, which turns out to be water trickling from a small side pipe in the wall a little way in. The second noise is a huge roar, akin to traffic. More on that later.

I did not get very many pictures; Cookie Monster is completely oblivious when concentrating on a camera. But as soon as it's my turn to use the tripod, he starts Freaking Out and imagining things. In retrospect, perhaps it was a bit cruel to take him single file down a dirty egg as his first draining experience. Yes, it was dirty. Although it was nothing that London's hardcore elite Bazalgette Buddies would balk at, there was still Evidence Of Sewage - more than the slight amount Aberdrain's practically-drinkable-in-comparison Denburn had. Also, there was a Mysterious Mist which impeded torchlight. And as far as I could see, the tunnel looked straight and boring (in accordance with the map). Also, it was drizzling outside (I am aware of the ancient adage "No draining when it's raining", but the outfall was barely dribbling so a quick look in the entrance couldn't hurt). Also we didn't get round to doing it till kind of late and it had gotten dark outside.

I came back another day after having a bagpipe lesson at the College of Piping down the block, and I re-did the Pinkston alone, with a fog-piercing spotlight and more psychological preparedness. Resolving to do more walking and less photography, I was able to do 3 or 4 times the distance in 1/4 the time. It's actually a pretty short tunnel. Here's what the rushing noise and source of the mist turned out to be:


A little junction where turdage comes whooshing round the corner. When the Sewer Proper floods, it overflows into the Kelvin, and the Pinkston lives again. Yummy.


That's looking into the overflow chamber from a section of blasted rock (it wasn't all red brick egg after all). That is where my journey ended. It didn't seem like a good idea to jump the overflow wall into a murky river of roaring sewage alone.

Now actually, between trips to the Pinkston, I made a trip to the Molendinar. I think it has only been done once before, but I think when that guy did it the access point was not in the middle of a construction site with its accompanying security.

Sidenote: Beforehand, I made the best £5 purchase I've ever made. A flashlight, with a fluoro in the handle. Runs on 4 AA's. I got it for the fluoro, but the torch turned out to be great too, since it acts more like a spotlight and can do distance, while my previous LED flashlight was pretty bright and good at fills, but didn't throw light super far. Also the new torch's incandescent bulb is a nice warm orange which looks nice when light painting, rather than the nasty white/blue of LED. The beam's pretty narrow though, so it's difficult to paint evenly with it. But I love fluoro green.

I also bought my own tripod so Cookie Monster could stay entranced by his camera and not Freak Out again. But after noting A) The Smell, B) The Spiky Fences, C) Security Guards, D) All Of The Above, he opted to sit this one out and be a lookout. But I wasn't about to go home without giving it a shot. Still being on American time and not being the most punctual anyway, we got there at around 10 PM, and had to wait an hour for the security car parked out front to leave. Then I went in... I did not realize that the foliage on the other side of the wall would be so loud. It was a bit thicker than it looked. Whatever. I decided to do the upstream bit first. The water was clear, but bafflingly foul smelling. It was probably the "mud" beneath it. Anyway, I was afraid the tunnel was going to be a rapid shrinker. The lowest bit was this series of I-beams:


I was going to turn back, but decided to waddle/scoot under them, just to see:


Promising. After lifting the chain up:


Stooper's respite. After this, it's less photogenic corrugated metal:


I went round a few bends and just saw more metal. There were stalactites, the composition of which I chose not to examine closely. However, I regretfully decided to turn back since I'd told Cookie Monster I wouldn't be longer than a certain amount of time, and I didn't want him to Freak Out and call the police so they could search for my body.

On the way back, I played with my new fluoro at the entrance and exit of a little bypass tunnel:



When I got back to the uncovered section, I called Cookie Monster's phone. He told me that not long after I'd gone in, some security guards had come round and asked him questions. He did his best lost American tourist impersonation, and told them he was waiting for a friend (the truth), and then went off to buy some food and find a bartender to vent to about the stupid thing his friend was doing. He'd just gotten back, and seen security pass by again. I told him I was going to have a go at the downstream bit, and hung up. However, after realizing that I'd have to pass through a more lighted and exposed stretch of stream, and considering the time, and worried because Cookie Monster had made it sound like I had tripped an alarm or something... I decided to leave. I crashed back through the foliage and scrambled up and over a steep wall through a gap in the barbed wire, wearing my waders and carrying my tripod. Cookie Monster met me and told me that right after I had hung up the phone, security passed by yet again. Then he could hear the foliage crashing from across the street.

So I suppose I was just naive and lucky. But I don't think security was as tight as Cookie Monster made it sound on the phone. Once I got out he clarified his mumblings and said that I hadn't tripped any alarm and that the security guards weren't looking for me specifically - just doing the rounds. Still, it's probably easier to go during the day when there's no security besides disinterested construction workers in the distance. Probably even better just to wait until the construction's finished, if they don't brick the Molendinar over. I'm quite upset that I didn't get to do the downstream bit, and only got to do a small portion of the upstream bit. I'll come back to Glasgow some day and finish the job, and my bagpipe lessons.

I'll leave you with this variation on Stooper's Respite:


By the way, besides being new to draining, I'm new to the whole photography thing as well, and the photos in this report were my first ever attempt at light painting. But note to self: Less photography, more walking.

More photos and higher resolution here and here.

Next stop: Manholechester. Anyone want to meet up?
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